Thursday, June 29, 2006

I sense a nasty cold approaching.

Also, I saw Al Gore on the Daily Show last night, plugging his new global warming movie.

He's doughed up a bit over the last few years, and now looks eerily like Darrell Hammond did playing him on SNL. It's pretty wacky.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

At 1pm local time, June 25...

... at the World Cup venue in Germany, Portugal will face the Netherlands in the ultimate, 439-year grudge match to end all grudge matches.

Yes, that's right. Sunday. SUNDAY. SUNDAY!



Kicking while diving!

We'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need... oh.

They've been sold out for months.

Because of the, er, World Cup. Right.

Well, just watch it on TV. Whatever.

I predict an unprecedented number of fouls.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mostly Useless Things I Learned on the Web Today, vol. I

The longest formally declared war on record, at 439 years (and counting!), is between Portugal and the Netherlands. Typical Portuguese laziness, not calling an official end to the mess even though both countries are founding members of NATO. And don't send me nasty Dutch-hater emails blaming Holland, everybody knows who the real problem is here.

In related news, the oldest conflict still being actively pursued is the "Colombian Armed Conflict," which is apparently of so little significance that it doesn't qualify to be called a civil war, but has been simmering since 1964. I dunno, if armed guerrillas had been blowing stuff up in my country for forty-two years I'd be willing to call that a war.

The newest conflict reported by the all-knowing Wikipedia is the so-called "Second Somali Civil War," which arguably doesn't exist since the first one hadn't ended yet. In a close second is the "El-Aaiun Intifada" taking place in Western Sahara -- which according to the Moroccan occupying authority isn't actually of any importance. Good to know.

So, yeah, world still needs more Canada. Get on that, Bono.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sure, Canada's Great And All...

By now everyone's probably seen those Tourism Canada ads where the camera's gawking at some famous foreign landmark, and then one of the locals shows up and raves about how great our history or scenery or, you know, stuff is, and how lucky we are to live here.

My new personal favourite is the Paris / Cathedral Grove one, where the young French lady says "we don't have such big and beautiful... things... in France." While gesturing wildly at her own hooters. Hee!

Yes, that's right, I'm 4.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

No Mo' Gitmo

I read today that Mr. Bush down south is considering putting an end to the Guantanamo Bay extrajudicial detention facility that he set up in the wake of the 9/11 fiasco.

Of course - like you, dear reader - my first thought was: "what would Sir Winston S. Churchill, wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its attendant Empire, have to say about this whole enemy combatant thing?"

Interestingly enough, this:

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgment by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian Governments, whether Nazi or Communist... Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilisation."*

It's important to note that the good Mr. Churchill was writing here in October of 1943, while Britain was still actively at war with the Nazi tyranny (and allied to the Communist one), and that therefore the Nazi/Communist comparison is both relevant and appropriate, thus Godwin's Law does not apply. Furthermore, he goes on to expand that such powers ought still to exist, but should be reserved to the legislature -- the British Parliament having retained its power of attainder. The United States Constitution expressly forbids just such an exercise of authority.

I can't help but think that the two world leaders in question would fail utterly to see eye-to-eye on a good many other points, as well.

*Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. V - "Closing the Ring," Riverside Press - Cambridge, 1951, p. 679.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

So I Realized Today...

that although my blog is punnishly named for a trading card, and I promise in my description to rant about card games, that I have steadfastly failed to do so.

If you were feeling let down by that, you have an option. This guy rants about card games (well, one in particular) much more effectively and regularly than I pretend to. He's an arrogant jerk who blames all his failures on his opponent's lucksackery (and though the art is far better, his jokes and his characterization are never as good as the ones at UGM) but then, who in the world of Magic: the Gathering isn't? He sort of reminds me of an even-more-narrowly-targeted Mike Krahulik. Maybe a little less foul-mouthed. I guess what he needs most is his very own Jerry Holkins.

In fairness, the Ripple thing he's talking about is, in fact, incredibly lame, especially in light of the ten (!) brilliant keyword mechanics that the boys at Wizards squeezed into the preceding block. Which is not to mention the avalanche of extra mechanical stuff that was folded into Ravnica - magemarks, nephilim, "enhanced" monocolored spells, guild mana, the whole guild system, and all immersed in a gloriously compelling setting. I mean, seriously. Compare the stunning, infinite city of Ravnica to the upcoming Coldsnap. "Ooh, it's rather chilly today, eh, Lars?" Yeesh. I think we're in for another Mercadian Masques, here, folks.

There. Was that geeky enough for y'all?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Equalization, Schmequalization

Today there's another blurb from Jean Charest about folding resource revenue into the federal-provincial equalization formula, which is Liberal code for "shuffling more money from Alberta taxpayers to Quebec."

Charest's argument is that this money isn't, in fact, coming from Alberta, BC and Ontario, who are the "have" provinces under the existing system, but from the federal government. He bases this assertion on the large surpluses that the feds have been running for the last few years.

Excuse me? All that money is still from Alberta, BC and Ontario. When your province takes more money out of the federal pot than it pays in federal taxes, it might be pleasant to believe that there's a bottomless well of money sitting there in Ottawa waiting for you to draw on it. It probably takes your mind off the fact that all the excess money that came back to your province after the services your own taxes paid for, was covered by some other province's success. And that, therefore, in relative terms, you're a failure.

The mythical "federal taxpayer" makes a fine argument when you're running a have-not province. That doesn't make him any less mythical. A finite amount of money arrives in the federal coffers, and because of the equalization formula, every penny of "surplus" there is actually from a "have" province. Besides which, arguably there is no surplus. Sure, we have a surplus over the fiscal year. But that's not the same as an accumulated surplus. There's still an accumulated debt. Until that's paid off the surplus is just an accounting illusion.

Here's hoping the federal Conservatives aren't so desperate for Quebec votes that they'll take a page from the Red Book and just start buying them.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Statistical Interlude

Current Saturday Night Live repertory players,
in what we'll pretend is no particular order:

1 - Tina Fey
2 - Chris Parnell
3 - Darrell Hammond
4 - Amy Poehler
5 - Horatio Sanz
6 - Will Forte
7 - Seth Meyers
8 - Kenan Thompson
9 - Maya Rudolph
10 - Finesse Mitchell
11 - Fred Armisen

No, they're not Wikilinked. Don't be so lazy.